What is personalised medicine?

Why you should know about this way of medical treatment.

When you get ill, it is highly likely that you will be put on one treatment path.

If you get a headache, take paracetamol, sorted. But what if you knew that in order to cure your headache you needed to do something completely different? Different from what someone else with the same headache should do?

Welcome to personalised medicine.

orange and white medication pill

Personalised medicine is exactly what it says on the tin. It is a course of treatment or preventative measures specific to a sole individual, working based on what their body’s needs.

How does it work?

The process of achieving personalised medicine isn’t easy. To understand what treatment an individual needs has been for years been based on tried and tested treatments based on case studies of large control groups. Then the most successful treatment became what was considered the best course of action.

However, personalised medication works by looking at the specific gene profile of the patient and using this as a guide to what would work. This makes sense given that we all respond differently to different medicines and treatments.

There are many positives to personalised medicine such as the rate of success being higher than clinical trials, better patient outcomes and reduced cost due to a smaller amount of treatment time required compared to traditional methods of treatment (where one is tried after another).

While personalised medicine could see the successful treatment of numerous cases, there are a few limitations.

From ethical stances of individual’s privacy (where sharing data from one person with a similar gene profile to another patient that could help them make a better-informed decision) to costs and time, personalised medicine is relatively infantile.

We know we are all unique and therefore, it makes sense that healthcare should be tailored to us all. However, the idea that treatment will be widely personalised is unfortunately slow growing. But this is not to say that in the future, that these kinds of treatments will become universal.

Images courtesy of Unsplash